China’s Qin Gang airs concerns in call with US’s Antony Blinken

The foreign minister says the US must ‘stop interfering’ if it wants to restore strained ties between the two countries.

China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang has urged the United States to stop meddling in its affairs and harming its security in a phone call with Antony Blinken, days before the US secretary of state is expected to visit Beijing.

Qin told Blinken to respect China’s “core concerns”, such as Taiwan, and “stop interfering in China’s internal affairs, and stop harming China’s sovereignty, security and development interests in the name of competition”, according to a statement from China’s foreign ministry on Wednesday.

Blinken, meanwhile, stressed the need for communication “to avoid miscalculation and conflict” and said the US would continue to raise areas of concern as well as potential cooperation with China, the State Department said after the call.

If Blinken’s trip goes ahead, it will be the first visit to China by Washington’s top diplomat in five years and the highest-profile visit during US President Joe Biden’s administration, which has clashed with Beijing over issues ranging from Taiwan to trade and spy balloons.

The Chinese foreign ministry has yet to reveal information on Blinken’s trip, but last Friday a US official said Blinken would be in Beijing on June 18, without providing further details.

He was previously supposed to visit China in February but the trip was called off amid mounting tension over the suspected Chinese spy balloons discovered flying across the US and later shot down.

China has since largely rejected US attempts at official exchanges, although Daniel Kritenbrink, assistant US secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, was in Beijing last week, the highest-ranking US official to visit China since the balloon incidents. Talks were said to be “candid“.

Relations have also been affected by visits to Taiwan by US politicians since then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi travelled to the self-ruled island in August last year. Pelosi’s visit prompted China, which claims the island as its own and has not ruled out the use of force to achieve its goals, to stage large-scale military exercises around the island.

China also condemned an April meeting in California between current House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.Qin noted China-US ties had “encountered new difficulties and challenges” since the beginning of the year, and the two sides had a responsibility to work together to properly manage differences, promote exchanges and cooperation, and stabilise relations.